Skip to main content

Restoring a Craftsman Style Rocking Chair, Part 1

An unimaginative person can neither be reverent or kind.

John Ruskin


He told me about how it was to be a boy in 1910, in the mountains there in northeastern California, hunting, fishing, trapping first and then how he became an old school buckaroo before he submitted to alcohol. I sat in this rocker when I was a teenager there in my great uncle's house in Red Bluff, California listening to the stories that rolled from him. When he died this rocker went into the attic of the barn at our place in Paynes Creek and sat there for 20 years before my wife pulled it down and placed it in the house.

Now here in Colorado, I decided that my wife was right, it was time to restore this old rocker. It didn't creak when you sat in it, it was a little rough around the edges and gray from the break down of the lignin in the oak. I gently pulled on an arm which came up with no resistance...


Then I pulled a little on the post and the rail came away from the joint...


...then the whole chair fell apart on its own. From those years sitting in a barn attic the hide glue in all the joints failed from the moisture in the winter and the searing heat from the roof in the summer.

The first thing that I did was to use a card scraper to remove what was left of the patina and old finish to get back down to the original wood. That took several evenings after work to complete and then I attacked the old mortises and tenons to clean out the old glue and to make sure all joints fitted tight.

More on the restoration in Part 2!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

The New Workshop: New Roof, Snow, Rain, Sub-zero Temperatures

A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!

Author Unknown


Cold weather and snow delayed me in getting down the corrugate tin roofing on the new workshop. January 3rd proved to be a day of snow flurries and sunshine which at least allowed me to install the roofing. Then it snowed six inches.


The temperature fell to -5 degrees Fahrenheit and it kept snowing...


...until there was 22 inches of snow on the ground. And the temperature fell some more to register -14 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer.



Yesterday, the temps warmed up to 36 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind gusting up to 50 mph and we lost power for about two hours.

This morning we woke up to rain and warmer weather. I am very glad that I got the new workshop "dried in" before all this snow fell.



The high reached 40 degrees today with rain and snow flurries, there is a good six inches of slush underneath all the snow. No wind to speak of today, though…

Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised

Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979


So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice


Why these books by Mr. Underhill? You will learn valuable wood working techniques if you make any of his projects. The dovetail joints used to join a drawer together are far mor…